It is now 350 years since the Great Fire of London razed the city's medieval heart to the ground. But at such a distance it is easy to forget the human drama which played out as thousands of people lost their homes, their livelihoods, and in some cases their lives.
This is the story of a city on knife's edge, riven by religious and political tensions, made vulnerable to disaster by its own neglect and avarice. It is a story of official blunders which turned a minor, commonplace accident into an all-consuming conflagration. It's a story of chaos, mass hysteria, profiteering and racist violence – but it is also a story of some heroism and charity, from royal and commoner alike. It unfolds over 72 hours, beginning at midnight on September 2, 1666, and ending at the climax of the fire's worse day. Of course, in an era without reliable watches, all timings are approximate.
For this account I am indebted to the Museum of London, as well as the following sources:
- The Diaries of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn
- Thomas Vincent – God's Terrible Voice In The City
- Walter George Bell – The Great Fire of London In 1666
- Adrian Tinniswood – The Great Fire of London: The Essential Guide.
Read the rest here.